Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Category: SQL (page 1 of 2)

It’s The Final Countdown — to PASS Summit 2014

It’s The Final Countdown to PASS Summit 2014!  And, now that that is stuck in your head, it’s time to get started.  With just a week left until Summit 2014 in Seattle, WA, its crunch time for getting everything planned, researched, registered, gathered, and packed before flying out on Saturday morning to Seattle, WA.

With only 6 days officially left until PASS Summit 2014 begins, it’s crunch time to get things prepared and ready for the event.  In actuality, it’s less for me as I’ll be flying out to Seattle a little early — on Saturday — to experience the area a little bit before the insanity starts.

Counting down to Summit!

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #330 – Charlotte, NC

SQL Saturday Roundup: #330 – Charlotte, NC

Fall is definitely conference season.  With SQL Saturday Orlando last weekend and PASS Summit 2014 the first week of November, what could be more fun that squeezing in another SQL Saturday in between?

With Charlotte being nearby, as well as a BI-focused event that I’d intended in the past, it seemed like a no-brainer to make the drive up to check it up for its 3rd year running.  So, Friday after work, I hopped in the car and made the drive up to beautiful Charlotte, NC to attend my 13th SQL Saturday!

Unfortunately, with October being a very busy month as is, I didn’t have time to attend anything but the main event itself, but such is the way of the busiest month of the year!

I arrived at the site of the 3rd SQL Saturday Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College, bright and early Saturday morning.  As per usual, signage to parking was very clear and check-in with a pre-printed speedpass was a breeze.

Sponsors were arranged in a long row throughout the center of the building and were very easily accessible while moving between sessions.  Seemed like a good representation of sponsors with a few I hadn’t seen before and excellent raffle prizes.

The morning kicked off with a short presentation in the auditorium to introduce the organizers and sponsors as well as logistics for the day.  With the conclusion of the opening remarks, we were off to start the day of sessions!

Opening remarks at SQL Saturday #330

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #318 – Orlando, FL

SQL Saturday Roundup: #318 – Orlando, FL

This past Saturday, I made my annual trek down to Orlando, FL for SQL Saturday #318 at Seminole State College.  I’ve learned you can always count on the Orlando team to put on a great event, and this one was no exception.  With over 600 registrations and over 450 in attendance, this was one of the larger SQL Saturdays in the region and in my opinion, it went off without a hitch!

On Friday morning, I left Atlanta and began the drive down to Orlando.  I would’ve liked to have been able to attend Jason Horner’s (B | T) “Zero to Dimensional Modeling Hero” pre-con session, but that would’ve required an extra day and with how busy things currently are, that just wasn’t in the cards this time.

I’d been following Andy Warren’s (B | T) blog posts regarding marketing for the even leading up to it and was pretty happy to see that they were able to exceed both their registration goal of 500 and their attendance goal of 350 by 640 and 450 respectively.  Well done!  He really worked hard getting the message out there and it worked.

Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and headed over from the hotel to the campus.  Signage was great and convenient parking was easily found.  Having printed my SpeedPASS in advance, check-in was a breeze.  Additionally, I got to pick up my SQL Saturday Orlando polo at check-in, which came out really nice!

SQL Saturday Orlando polo shirt, sold online prior to the event.  Came out great!

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #328 – Birmingham, AL

SQL Saturday Roundup: #328 – Birmingham, AL

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of trekking to nearby Birmingham, AL for SQL Saturday #328.  Seeing as Birmingham is so close to Atlanta and I hadn’t been to a SQL Saturday event since the Atlanta event in May, I figured this would be a great opportunity to make a short road trip to a venue I’d not yet attended.

The first SQL Saturday I attended was in Columbus, GA in September of 2012.  Since then, I’ve attended 12 events of varying sizes.  I found Birmingham to be very similar to the Columbus event — a small attendee base, but great speakers and a huge Atlanta presence.  It looked like quite a few of us made the trek out to Birmingham!

I arrived at the registration desk and check-in was very smooth.  As always, I had my SpeedPASS pre-printed and cut out…always make sure to do this, it saves a ton of time!

Being a smaller event, the venue was a tad confusing — a single 1-hall building with sessions and sponsors on both the first and second floors.  Despite the initial confusion of finding all of the rooms and sponsors, it was pretty smooth after that.

Samford University campus at SQL Saturday 328

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PASS Summit 2014 Sessions Announced!

PASS Summit 2014 Sessions Announced

Once again this year, the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) will be hosting the premier event for SQL Server and Business Intelligence — PASS Summit.

This year the event will be hosted in Seattle, WA from November 4-7.  On Wednesday of this week, the list of pre-conference sessions which will be offered on the 3rd and 4th as well as the list of conference sessions was officially released!

Last year, PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte, NC was my first opportunity to attend Summit.  I found the experience to be incredibly valuable and when early-bird registration rolled around for this year’s event, it didn’t take much deliberation to decide to make the trek out to Seattle.

While the session schedule for the event has not yet been published, the abstracts for this first big batch of sessions is online and very compelling — lots of great session topics and great speakers in the lineup.  There are no doubt going to be some tough decisions that will need to be made.  I’m seriously contemplating attending a pre-con session this year (as pre-cons at the smaller SQL Saturday events are always great!)

Look forward to more information about the event as the date draws closer.

SQL Saturday Roundup: #285 – Atlanta, GA

SQL Saturday Roundup: #285 – Atlanta, GA

It’s that time of year again!  This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual SQL Saturday event here in Atlanta (well, Alpharetta, really) and, as always, it was a great time.

SQL Saturday Atlanta is always a pleasure since being local means no travel necessary (hooray) and it’s always a top-notch production.  This year was no exception as the event had a great line-up of pre-cons and speakers and was very well executed.

I started off my SQL Saturday weekend by attending Teo Lachev’s (B | T) pre-con session, Deep Dive into the Microsoft BI Semantic Model (BISM).  Check-in for the pre-con was a very smooth process and we were each given a giant packet of all of the printed slides for the session.  Additionally, the pre-con sessions had what I’d call the best breakfast I’ve seen at a SQL Saturday event, which included a buffet of hot food items such as eggs, etc.

Teo Lachev presenting his BISM deep dive pre-con session at SQL Saturday Atlanta

The pre-con session itself had a great turnout and Teo did an excellent job presenting a very large amount of material in the given time.  All in all, it was a great day and time well spent!

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #237 – Charlotte, NC

SQL Saturday Roundup: #237 – Charlotte, NC

Following the incredible PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte, the Charlotte BI Group was gracious to host another edition of SQL Saturday – BI Edition.

As I was already in Charlotte for Summit (and would’ve drive to Charlotte for this event anyway if I hadn’t been at Summit) I took advantage of the opportunity to keep the week of connecting, learning, and sharing with the community for one last day.

This is the second year that CBIG has hosted a SQL Saturday BI Edition and it actually marks the first SQL Saturday that I’ve attended twice in a row (as I really started getting into SQL Saturday last year with Columbus, GA).

As the first SQL Saturday that I’ve attended two years in a row, I thought the event went very well.  There seemed to be a good number of attendees and a lot of big name speakers.  Many of the speakers from Summit stayed the extra day to present at SQL Saturday, though I was surprised that it didn’t seem there were as many attendees from Summit at SQL Saturday that I would have thought.  There were some though and it was fun to identify each other.  Lunch was an excellent BBQ with a number of sides and various lunch time presentations.  I’ve had a lot of BBQ these past couple days, but it was still great!

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #232 – Orlando, FL

SQL Saturday Roundup: #232 – Orlando, FL

For my 9th SQL Saturday, I decided to head to the source and attend the one that started it all — SQL Saturday Orlando.  SQL Saturday started in November of 2007, led by Andy Warren, Brian Knight, and Steve Jones.  Thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can see the original event’s main page and schedule page preserved in their original form…oh, how things have changed!

To begin the weekend for SQL Saturday 232, I attended Tim Mitchell’s (B | T) Pre-Con session:  Real World SSIS: A Survival Guide.  The session was hosted in a meeting room of the host hotel and had a pretty good turnout.  Tim provided a fantastic overview of his 7 tips for SSIS techniques in the real world complete with numerous demos.  I found the session overall very well organized and informative, though I did have difficulties at time as I don’t currently use SSIS nearly as deeply of frequently as others.

After a great day of learning about SSIS survival tips, it was time to get some rest in preparation for a full Saturday of learning.  SQL Saturday 232 was held on the campus of Seminole State College in Lake Mary, FL.  The event itself was well-organized with good signage and ample parking.  Upon check-in, in addition to the usual name badge, each attendee was given a branded USB drive, which was a nice touch, and a t-shirt (though these were on a separate table and easy to miss)

As always, deciding which sessions to choose from the vast array of great choices was difficult.  Ultimately, I decided on a good mix of BI topics, with a mix of general troubleshooting and professional development as well.  A few of my favorite sessions for the day were:

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Tips for Attending a SQL Saturday Event

Tips for Attending a SQL Saturday Event:  

I’ve been attending SQL Saturday events for only about a year now, however, thanks to the proximity of so many good sized cities in the southeast, I’ve managed to attend 8 events so far!  In doing so, I thought it would be helpful to run through some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to help out anybody else who may just be starting out.



A SQL Saturday event is a free all-day event centered on the subject matter of SQL server and its surrounding technologies.  These events are organized by local SQL Server User Groups and usually occur once per year per city and group.  Most major cities have at least one user group and some have multiple groups.  It is common for a SQL Saturday event to be preceded by one or more pre-conference sessions which all day learning events, for a small fee, on a single topic in a more classroom setting.  While SQL Saturday events are organized by local user groups, they tend to attract speakers from all over the country.

The SQL Saturday home page for SQL Saturday 220 in Atlanta, GA

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #220 – Atlanta, GA

SQL Saturday #220 – Atlanta, GA:  

This was my 8th SQL Saturday, yet somehow only the first one I’ve attended near my home, Atlanta.  It’s pretty strange not having to drive for hours and stay in a hotel!

For anybody who has not yet had the pleasure of attending a SQL Saturday event in Atlanta, they’re known for being pretty popular events.  As such, not one or two, but five pre-conference sessions were offered for Friday before the main event.

I had a tremendously difficult time choosing between Stacia Misner’s (B | T) “Languages of BI” pre-con session and Bill Pearson’s (B | T) “Practical Self Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel” pre-con.  With both topics being interesting to me and both speakers being extremely knowledgeable it was a pretty tough decision!

Ultimately, I opted for Bill’s session, “Practical Self Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel” as I had yet to see Bill speak in person and the session was a little bit more applicable to a project I am currently about to undertake at work.  Given the opportunity though, I’d still love to attend Stacia’s pre-con!

We had a great crowd for the pre-con session.  The rooms provided by the Georgia State University Alpharetta building were very nice with plenty of space and great audio/video.  Bill provided digital copies of the course material on some very sleek Atlanat MDF USB drives as well as printed booklets of the slides for following along.

The session began with an overview of PowerPivot with how to get it properly installed and configured and then it was off to the races.  We went through an overview of the how PowerPivot works and when its useful in organizations and then proceeded through a number of scenarios building out a PowerPivot solution.  I found the information on using linked date tables for proper “Time Intelligence” of particular use.  After a great day of going through PowerPivot from top to bottom, it was time to head home and get some rest before the big event.

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